An online shopping company that is tipped to become the ‘ethical Amazon’ is expanding its business with a new funding round worth £800,000.
For the second time in nine months, the NorthStar Equity Investors (NSEI) Co-Investment Fund has backed the work of PointOV – a ground-breaking internet business based in the Ouseburn, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
This latest round of funding sees £500,000 coming from the NSEI Co-Investment Fund, with a further £300,000 from business angels. Back in June 2006, NSEI used £200,000 from the same fund to help PointOV set up and develop its initial e-commerce services and operations. Since then, a period of rapid growth has seen the company quadruple in size and achieve a £1 million turnover. With ongoing support and advice from NSEI, PointOV has moved into new offices and multiplied its staff from 7 to 14.
Through its website - www.ethicalsuperstore.com – the firm sells a vast range of eco-friendly and fair trade products from around the world. These include a wide selection of familiar fair trade staples such as tea, coffee and chocolate as well as gifts, fashion, books and eco-gadgets such as solar powered iPod chargers, eco-kettles, lights and solar panels.
PointOV director Vic Morgan said: “We now offer 1,500 products for sale and you can find more fairly traded products at Ethical Superstore than in major supermarkets nationwide."
“The way the business has grown over the past nine months has been phenomenal. We realised that there was a real gap in the market because a lot of companies were selling either fair trade goods or green goods whereas we are offering products that cater for the entire lifestyle of the ethical consumer."
“Our team’s e-commerce expertise and passion for ethical trading has led to some popular service innovations, including an online service for customising gift hampers and search tools tailored to ethical products. We even offer a carbon offset home delivery programme, in which you can add £1 to your order to offset the carbon emissions in connection with your home delivery. This is one example of how we try to creatively involve our customers in reducing environmental impact."
The latest investment from NSEI means that PointOV can now pursue a fresh phase of accelerated growth, aiming for a turnover of £3 million next year, increasing staff numbers to 30 and expanding its premises.
Vic said: “In a couple of years we could be in a position for a public share sale, just like Cafédirect and Body Shop have done. They encouraged their core customers to be more active in their support by buying shares.”
Set up in 2004 by Vic Morgan, an experienced entrepreneur in the U.S., together with Andy Redfern, former Director of Traidcraft, PointOV also provides web and e-commerce solutions to firms selling fair trade and ethical products and has partnerships with some of the leading organisations in the UK.
Marion Bernard of NorthStar Equity Investors said: “PointOV has an ambitious entrepreneurial management team and they really know their market. I’m confident that they will use this latest investment to build on their success. They are a great example of how venture capital coupled with expert guidance can help a smart idea become a booming business.”
The Co-Investment Fund was set up with money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is designed to help North East technology businesses through phases of rapid growth, with investments of up to £1 million. For more information about the North East Co-Investment Fund, visit www.northstarei.com or contact North Star Equity Investors on 0191 211 2300.
Note for editors
NorthStar Equity Investors is an independent fund management company, which invests in high growth and technology-based companies in the North East region. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of NStar.
NorthStar Equity Investors manages two venture finance funds totalling £33m.
The £10m Proof of Concept Fund, funded by One North East and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which can provide up to £90,000 investment.
The £23m Co-Investment Fund, funded by the ERDF, which can provide between £100,000 to £1million investment.
NorthStar Equity Investors is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
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